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Residents staging rally for Manteca Police today
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Shim Lacy-Watson wants to thank the men and women of the Manteca Police Department, and she’s inviting the community to join her in celebration.

Lacy-Watson has organized the Manteca Law Enforcement Appreciation Rally set for today from noon to 3 p.m. outside the City of Manteca administration offices, 1001 W. Center Street.

A Facebook event began circulating earlier this week. As of press time, 549 people had been invited to the event. Only 22 confirmed they were going. Lacy-Watson said she expects a crowd of about 75.

Either way, Lacy-Watson and her family will take to Center Street, rallying peacefully for the sacrifice and service of Manteca’s law enforcement officers.

The rally, she says in her Facebook post, is an attempt to “stem the growing tide of negativity” toward police officers in light of events in Ferguson Mo. and New York.

“… There is a need to show our local police that Mantecans recognize and honor their brave choice to protect and serve our community,” Lacy-Watson wrote. “The men and women of the Manteca Police Department go to work every day not knowing what dangers they face. Gangs and drugs continue to plague our community and yet, MPD officers to (sic) out each day without partners to be on the front line to push back again (sic) the chaos and lawless, criminal activity.”

Lacy-Watson has long been an advocate of law enforcement.

She and her husband, Michael, are volunteers with the Manteca Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and their daughter was once a member of the Manteca Explorers.

Two weeks ago, husband and wife began displaying a blue light in the front window of their home and  hung signs around town with the phrase “#policelivesmatter,” hoping to start a viral movement amongst the Millennial generation.

Today’s appreciation rally is a nod to the older generations; a grassroots, feet-on-the-street demonstration inspired by a similar effort in Phoenix recently.

She says she isn’t picking sides when it comes to the hot-button issues festering in other parts of the country, but simply acknowledging the service of the police officers closer to home.

“You can disagree and think there’s an issue in the criminal justice system and law enforcement, related to incarceration or racial profiling. Those are lot of the things people are talking about,” she said. “But while we’re having these really important discussions, we need to remember that that’s Randy and that’s Richard and that’s Barbie.

“These aren’t just officers or badges. Here in Manteca, those officers are people and many of them live right here in our community. Every day they go to work and put on a Kevlar vest, knowing they might take a bullet or get attacked with another weapon and not go home to their family.”

Even if you cannot make today’s rally, Lacy-Watson says there are other ways to show your support:

 Stop and thank an officer;

 Send a card or letter to the police department;

Share a positive story you’ve had with law enforcement on social media or as a letter to the editor with the Manteca Bulletin;

Display a blue light in the window of your home.

“I want to refocus on the positive and what a perfect thing for Manteca,” she said, “because we’re a patriotic city, a supportive city.”